Who is Riann Steele? Meet the leading lady of 'Debris' who was once only cast as the 'pretty White friend'

Stelle has been one of the most hard-working actors of this generation but she went through a lot of ups and down to reach where she is right now

                            Who is Riann Steele? Meet the leading lady of 'Debris' who was once only cast as the 'pretty White friend'
Riann Steele attends the UK premiere of 'Powder Room' at Cineworld Haymarket on November 27, 2013, in London, England (Getty Images)

Riann Steele has been a part of the industry since 2009 and has worked on various projects over the years. Born in New York, the actress studied acting at the Arts Education Schools in London and graduated with flying colors. She started her career by appearing in several Royal Shakespeare Company productions and made a name for herself.

In 2009, she appeared in ‘Hamlet’ alongside Patrick Stewart and David Tennant. In 2010, Steele made her feature film debut alongside Aiden Gillen in ‘Treacle Jr’. The movie turned out to be a success for Steele and she was applauded for her acting skills. Later that year, she made her television debut as well with ‘Holby City’. She played the role of the nurse Lauren Minster in the hit television series.


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In 2012, she featured in the highly-popular series ‘Doctor Who’ as Queen Nefertiti. Meanwhile, she got a chance to be a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) in the ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ and played the role of Catherine Starr in the blockbuster superhero flick. She is also famous for playing Sydney Halliday in ‘NCIS: New Orleans’ (2014).

Even after being a part of such successful movies and TV shows, why the actress always felt that she did not receive the welcome that she deserved while entering the entertainment industry?

Riann Steele attends the UK premiere of 'Powder Room' at Cineworld Haymarket on November 27, 2013 in London, England. (Getty Images)

What happened during her stint on ‘NCIS: New Orleans’?

The blockbuster hit TV series welcomed a fair share of guest stars throughout its six-season run. Riann Steele was one of the guest stars who appeared on the show. The actress was brought into the show following the departure of former castmate Shalita Grant. Steele would go on to appear in four episodes and was not seen on the show after that.

Executive producer, Christopher Silber, said that there’s always a chance Steel’s character could return to the show. However, she did not.

Riann Steele as Sydney Halliday in 'NCIS: New Orleans' (IMDb)

According to reports, Steele did not feel accepted during her time in the industry. But why did she say that? What were the reasons behind her comments?

Here’s why she didn’t feel ‘accepted’?

The entertainment industry can be a pretty dark place sometimes and it is not always filled with glitz and glamour. In an interview with The British Blacklist (via The Blast), Steele opened up about why she never feels accepted in the industry. During the interview, the actress noted why living in London may have hindered her career.

She also said that her skin color might also be responsible for the same and sometimes people assume that because she was light-skinned she had an easier time.

Riann Steele as Queen Nefertiti in 'Dr. Who' (IMDb)

She said: “You grow up and this is the skin you are in, but then it’s, ‘why do they treat me differently?’ Being mixed, you are really not accepted by either, and people assume that you are light-skinned so you have a much easier time.”

Steel, who lives in America now, also revealed that people always cast her as the “pretty White friend” but is never considered to play the lead role in the projects she is offered. Steele noted: “But no. Now I live in America, they talk about passing. A lot. So I get, ‘you are almost white’. This role is great for me because people assume, you’re the light-skinned pretty friend. But no, God put soil on me let me come out of the ground. I don’t get these parts (leading roles). I play the pretty friend on the arm of a guy.” However, she believes things are changing and people are learning about her true abilities. Before 2020, Steele did not have a US representation agency attached to her. However, as soon as she was cast in the upcoming NBC series ‘Debris’, Steele signed with UTA for representation in all areas. Meanwhile, she continues to be repped by Independent Talent Group and Ellipsis Entertainment Group in the UK.

Her breakthrough role in an American series

Steele will be playing the lead role in the upcoming NBC series ‘Debris’ alongside Jonathan Tucker. The show is a sci-fi thriller that tells the story of two agents working together to understand the unknown alien technology and protecting it from falling into the hands of the wrong people.

Riann Steele and Jonathan Tucker in 'Debris' (NBC Universal)

‘Debris’ will premiere exclusively on NBC on March 1.

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